Snowdon via The Watkin Path

Route Summary:

Popular and scenic route up Snowdon that ends with a steep tricky section.

Distance
Ascent
Time
6.7 km1020 m3 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Start and Finish: Nant Gwynant - Snowdon Summit

Facilities:

Cafe, parking WC.

Hazards:

Scree at top is an accident blackspot..

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Public Transport:

Sherpa Buses, infrequent, between Beddglert and Pen y Pass/Betws y Coed.

Traveline for UK Public Transport
Parking and Post Code for Sat Nav (where applicable): LL55 4NR

Quieter than Pen y Pass, but still fills up on good days

Weather Forecast:

Met Office Snowdonia Mountain Weather

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Snowdon via The Watkin Path Route Map and GPX Download

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Recommended Maps

 Guidebooks:

Summits and Places on this Route

Places Nearby



Snowdon via The Watkin Path Details

The Watkin Path up Snowdon offers an alternative to the more popular walks from Llanberis and Pen y Pass such as the PYG and Miner’s Tracks. It’s still a very popular path, and rightly so. It provides a variety of walking that none of the other routes to the summit of Snowdon can boast. The Watkin Path up Snowdon was opened in 1892 as a donkey track, but was never truly finished. Of all the official ascents it starts nearest to sea level, from Nant Gwynant at under 100m, and as a result has more ascent than any other direct route, but the Llanberis Path starts off only 50m higher and involves a little more distance. Swings and roundabouts really.

watkinpath

About The Watkin Path up Snowdon

The Watkin Path is without doubt the most scenic of all the routes up Snowdon.  It starts off through some ancient woodland before passing a spectacular waterfall and ultimately ascending to Bwlch Ciliau and Yr Wyddfa. It’s a good path and a pleasure to walk for most of it’s distance. However the final eroded scree chute up to the summit from Bwlch Ciliau rather detracts from the path’s overall appeal. However, no other path can boast a Prime Minister, commandos and a Carry on Film among its myriad claims to fame. We recommend a descent via Snowdon South Ridge for the best day out, or Y Lliwedd for a slightly more challenging one! Those seeking a longer walk can descend to Pen y Pass and follow a good footpath down the valley, adding an hour or two to the walk. That has the advantage of passing the cafe and Youth Hostel at Pen y Pass as well as the Pen y Gwryd for some well earned refreshment.

The Watkin Path up Snowdon Full Route Description

1 From the car park, head left along the road towards the start of the Watkin Path. The initial section, through woodland, is on a built path and provides welcome shade in warm weather.

2 The path soon emerges from the woodland, and the wide track now takes a gentle route by contouring around the lower reaches of Cwm Llan. The views towards the waterfalls provide a highlight of this section.

3 At the top of the waterfalls, you’ll spot a new hydroelectric plant built by the National Trust to power its properties in the valley below. Continue along the track, past the old Quarry Manager’s house which is complete with commando bullet holes from WW2. It’s then more history as you pass the Gladstone Rock which commemorates the opening of the path in 1892 by the then Prime Minister – Gladstone.

4 As you approach the quarries, the Watkin Path now veers right as it starts its ascent to Bwlch y Saethau. The summit of Snowdon looks far away from here, and dominates the view from this point onwards. Thankfully, the path takes a well graded route up along a good path which switches back just before you reach the ridge and Bwlch y Ciliau.

5 This is a spectacular location, with views towards Lliwedd in one direction, Snowdon and Cwm Llan in the other. We recommend veering off path a little here if it’s clear in order to take in the view down into Cwm Dyli and Llyn Llydaw. There’s very little climbing on this section, which is good considering the next section. A good path continues just below the crest of the ridge, which can also be walked by the more adventurous, and brings you with little effort to the bottom of the scree path.

6 Now the effort begins. This is as far as the Watkin Path technically goes – with the remaining section to join the Rhyd Ddu path being an unpleasant scree path. It’ll be loose in the wet, dry and best left to the mountaineers in snow. However, it is currently being built into a proper path that should finally complete the Watkin Path nearly 130 years after it was originally ‘completed’. Ensure that you don’t veer to the right towards the South East Ridge where the ground can be steeper. Despite being unpleasant, it is at least reasonably straightforward to follow.

7 You’ll be grateful to reach the junction with the Rhyd Ddu and South Ridge Paths, which you join for the final 50m pull to the summit. The path passes the Hafod Eryri building, which you’ll need to pass and the summit is directly ahead on well built steps that are designed for the train passengers.



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6 Comments
  1. David Poots 8 years ago

    I walked the Watkin path this week, visibility from the ridge was very poor and the path wasn’t visible on the ground. The rain has made numerous false trails. I got to the top by walking/climbing a compass bearing. A scary experience with a thousand foot drop to my right. Don’t believe the guide books, this path is dangerous in anything less than perfect weather!

  2. Ade 8 years ago

    I agree with David, the Watkin path can be a real Danger area on the scree slope.

    If you are not experianced in the Mountains then leave this route until you are. There are many false trails inh the top section and the scree is very loose under foot.

    If you have experiance though this has to be one of the nicest routes to the summit. amazing views as you climb up the valley.

    If you have not climbed Snowdon before then please make sure you are kitted out in the right gear. It can be a hot spring day at the bottom but can be -10C and covered in Ice at the summit. It is not a leasent Sunday afternoon stroll in tshirt and flipflops, it’s a Mountain and should be treated with the upmost respect.

    Have fun but make sure you keep yourself and your family safe.

  3. dave 7 years ago

    Glad you guys agree! This path is wonderful to a point. Then, not so….

  4. Kenneth Tonge 5 months ago

    It was 1951 (ish) I was on a youth hostelling holiday. I left my bike behind a drystone wall and walked up to have a look at the Gladstone Rock. As the path continued beyond some ruined cottages I carried on. It was very tricky to reach the Summit in cycling shoes. The screes were slithery and I gripped the slates sticking up from the rocks. The summit café offered little comfort – it was being rebuilt and had no windows. A cup of tea and a bun – all I could afford – and it was back down by the same route. Didn’t see another soul on the walk and there were not a lot of folk at the summit. I guess it’s been much “improved” since then.

    • Author
      Dave Roberts 5 months ago

      Hi Kenneth, thanks for sharing your experiences from 1951. I’ve noticed the hills have become busier since i started walking these hills in the late 80s, but I can imagine that it was quieter still back in the 50’s.

  5. Kenneth Tonge 5 months ago

    As young teenagers, having grown up through WWII, we were fit and active. The Old Mill, Cynwyd was like a second home to me. A couple of postcards assured my mother that all was well as I cycled around Wales for a fortnight. No cars to worry about. Judging by the photographs they’ve taken all sense of adventure out of it. It may be safer, but will it be as memorable?

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